Sunday, 22 May 2022

Malt 1880 - 1914

Towards the end of the 19th century some coloured malts, such as brown and amber became less popular and brewers relied on other malts to mimic them. This doesn’t seem to have been a total success, leading to a resurgence in their use.

“Brown and amber malts have of late years fallen somewhat into disfavour, black being relied upon for colour, crystal for flavour. There is. however, latterly a tendency to employ an increased proportion of brown and amber malt, and without doubt such malt if really well made gives a characteristic flavour not possessed by either black or crystal. It is, indeed, by a skilful blending of the several types of coloured malt that some of the most successful black beers are produced. It is true that in such grists the total proportion of the coloured malts will often be large and the cost price of the beer as a consequence high, but the result of the adoption of such grists generally fully justifies the expenditure." 

One of the problems with brown and amber malts had been their extreme variability, both in terms of flavour and colour. A brown malt from one maltster was often very different to that from another. However, changes in the method of manufacturing such malts to a large degree eliminated these differences making their use more attractive to brewers.

In general, malt made from foreign barley worked out cheaper than that from English barley. Looking from the point of view of the cost per pound of extract. Unsurprisingly, English pale ale malt was the most expensive.

Coloured malt analyses
  Black. Brown. Amber. Crystal.
Extract per quarter (336 lbs. ) 57.75 57.12 84.33 58.26
„ per cent. . 44.3 44.04 65.02 45.07
Acidity of wort 0.29 0.23 0.19 0.17
Total proteids or albuminoids 6.11 7.13 7.62 8.71
Soluble 3.99 4.81 5.69 5.88
Insoluble ,, ,, 3.99 4.81 5.69 5.88
Mineral matter or ash 0.32 0.29 1.2 0.76
Moisture 5.37 6.23 4.14 2.12
Source:
The Brewers Analyst, by R. Douglas Bailey, 1907, page 234

 

The cost of various malts in 1907
Oriigin Malt type Cost per lb. of extract. d.
English pale ale malt 4.8
Smyrna pale ale malt 4.4
Ouchak pale ale malt 4.6
Californian pale ale malt 4.3
English stock ale malt 4.7
English mild ale malt 4.5
Smyrna mild ale malt 4.3
Californian mild ale malt 4.2
Chilian (brewing) mild ale malt 3.9
Chilian (Chevalier) mild ale malt 4.5
Benghazi mild ale malt 4.4
  Amber malt 4.7
  Brown malt 5.5
  Black malt 6.1
  Roasted barley 4.8
Source:
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 13, page 342.

 


 

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Let's Brew - 1914 Hancock X

Seeing this beer was a bit of a shock. A pre-WW I X Ale with a gravity more like one from after WW II.

1035º is pretty feeble compared to London X Ales of the time, which were still over 1050º. I’ve based the FG on the 1897 version, where for once the brewing log actually recorded it. The degree of attenuation is pretty high, though that does reflect the few FGs that appear in the logs.

The base malt was split 50-50 between English and Indian. Unfortunately, this particular log doesn’t list the costs so I can’t compare the price of the two malts. I’d expect the Indian to be cheaper. The small quantity of malt extract I assume was for extra diastatic power, as it came in the form of EDME.

New to the party are the three sugars. Interesting that they’ve moved away from invert sugar to simple glucose. Though, as we’ll see, some of their other beers did still include numbered inverts.

The hops were a combination of Oregon, Poperinge and English, sadly with no mention of the harvest year.
 

1914 Hancock X
pale malt 6.25 lb 84.40%
glucose 1.00 lb 13.50%
malt extract 0.125 lb 1.69%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.03 lb 0.41%
Cluster 90 mins 0.50 oz
Strisselspalt 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1035
FG 1004
ABV 4.10
Apparent attenuation 88.57%
IBU 23
SRM 6
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity

 

Friday, 20 May 2022

Barley 1880 - 1914

Britain had become dependent on the import of foreign grain. Approximately a third of the barley consumed was imported. The price of barley was falling right up until the outbreak of WW I.

The types of barley grown fell into three groups:

Barley types
Latin name type
Hordeum hexastichum six-row barley
Hordeum vulgare
Hordeum distichum  two-row barley
Hordeum zeocriton
Hordeum coeleste  naked barley
Hordeum nudum
Source:
"The Brewing Industry" by Julian L. Baker, 1905, page 14.


Large quantities of foreign barley were imported into Britain for malting. California and the Mediterranean were the main sources of cheaper malt. Top-quality, very pale malt, was made from barley imported from central Europe, usually Bohemia, Moravia or the Saale district. The latter were mostly used in the best Pale Ales, such as Bass.

Mediterranean barley, often given the generic name of Smyrna, was extremely popular because of its price and adaptability. It was widely used in Light Pale Ales, though not the poshest examples. According to Barnard, beers benefitted from its use:

“all beers are cleaner, sounder and more brilliant when a portion of Smyrna malt is blended with the heavier English grain.”

In addition, Smyrna malt was the most economical available.

Home production and imports of barley 1880 - 1914
      Average Price per Cwt.      
Year Acreage Estimated Produce Cwts. s. d. Imports Cwts. Import % Total cwts.
1880 2,695,000 19,315,629 9 3 11,705,290 37.73% 31,020,919
1885 2,446,868 38,268,586 8 5 15,366,160 28.65% 53,634,746
1890 2,300,994 36,068,538 8 0 16,677,988 31.62% 52,746,526
1895 2,346,367 38,268,586 6 2 28,618,867 42.79% 66,887,453
1900 2,172,129 30,600,842 7 0 17,189,358 35.97% 47,790,200
1904 2,002,854 27,881,018 6 3 27,173,455 49.36% 55,054,473
1905 1,872,305 29,019,446 6 10 21,458,960 42.51% 50,478,406
1906 1,931,651 30,124,861 6 9 19,934,500 39.82% 50,059,361
1907 1,885,359 29,951,882 7 0 19,627,620 39.59% 49,579,502
1908 1,824,410 27,486,114 7 3 18,137,200 39.75% 45,623,314
1909 1,829,933 30,778,907 7 6 21,556,470 41.19% 52,335,377
1910 1,899,130 28,144,864 6 6 18,281,500 39.38% 46,426,364
1911 1,756,000 25,000,000 - - -   -
1914 1,871,166 32,262,712 7 7 16,944,422 34.43% 49,207,134
Sources:
Brewers' Almanack 1912, page 158.
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 118.
Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 66.


Thursday, 19 May 2022

Bottling 1880 - 1914 (part 5)

You'll be pleased to learn that this is the last part of my series on bottling. It's been fun, right? Well, maybe for me. And that's all that counts, really.

Prolonged chilling and filtering
By holding beer at a temperature of 26º to 28º F for one to three weeks, more material was precipitated out than by the quick method. Resulting in a beer which would remain free from sediment for several weeks after bottling. The downside was that the process made beers taste thinner and weaker than a cask version.

Prior to chilling, the beer was dry hopped and allowed to condition in the cask. In contrast to beer for bottle-conditioning, a high level of CO2 was desirable. Some brewers used Kräusen to condition in the cask, but most preferred priming sugar.

Some brewers added additional CO2 before filtering, while others pressurised casks with CO2 while they were in the cold store.

Pasteurisation
Despite the limited shelf-life of non-naturally conditioned beer, brewers in the UK almost never pasteurised their beer. The only exception being Lager.

UK brewers associated the practice with Lager beer and didn’t find it appropriate for native types of beer. Why was Lager almost always pasteurised? Because it was susceptible to heat when unpasteurised. At least that’s what British brewers thought.

It was recognised that the shelf-life of beer was improved by pasteurisation, but this was outweighed by its disadvantages. The greatest being the “bready” flavour it gave to beer. Which wasn’t popular with everyone:

“Its general tendency is towards a loss of delicacy, and it is strongly objected to by some beer drinkers.” 

Pasteurisation also required extra equipment, so a capital cost. If you were already producing beer which kept long enough for your local market, why spend money for little practical gain? 

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1897 Hancock Stout

The Porter might have been discontinued, but Hancock continued to produce a Stout. It was, however, quite different from the 1888 version.

Surprisingly, the gravity has increased by a couple of points. But the really large changes come with the recipe. Out is brown malt and in is crystal malt. Also, the proportion of black malt has trebled. Which is more than enough to compensate for the other big change. At least in terms of the colour.

That other big change? The elimination of sugar. This version being all malt. The base malt, by the way, was 50% English and 50% Chilean. I’m surprised at how small the price difference was between the two: 35s per quarter for the former. 33s 6d for the latter.

As seems to have been the case with all their beers in this period, only English hops were employed. Half Worcester from the 1895 season, half East Kent from 1896.
 

1897 Hancock Stout
pale malt 12.50 lb 80.65%
crystal malt 60 L 1.50 lb 9.68%
black malt 1.50 lb 9.68%
Fuggles 150 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.50 oz
OG 1065.5
FG 1017
ABV 6.42
Apparent attenuation 74.05%
IBU 39
SRM 41
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity

 

 

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Bottling 1880 - 1914 (part 4)

I hope you're not getting bored with all this stuff about bottling. As I'm still not finished yet.


Forced bottling
This was effectively a streamlined version of natural conditioning. The main aim being to speed up the process and hence leave less capital tied up in conditioning bottles.

A quicker conditioning in the cask was encouraged and the beer fined before flattening prior to bottling. The store where the bottles were conditioned was at 60º and 70º F to speed up the process.

Beer produced by this method was satisfactory as long it was consumed quickly. When stored for too long it was likely to develop a thick sediment and become unappealingly cloudy.

Simple carbonation
In this method, beer was carbonated by injecting CO2 prior to bottling. Most brewers purchased cylinders of gas for this purpose, though some preferred to make it themselves. No-one seems to have collected the CO2 naturally produced during primary fermentation.

The big drawback of bottled beer produced this way was that it started to throw a sediment after just a few days. The shelf-life could be improved by filtering before bottling, but it remained limited.  Unless you could guarantee that the beer could be sold and consumed quickly, this wasn’t a suitable way of bottling. It did have the advantages of speed and reducing inventory of conditioning beer.

Quick chilling and filtering
Originally developed in the USA, this method entailed chilling beer quickly to around freezing point (26º - 36º F), which caused a haze to be precipitated. Carbonation and filtration followed, after which the beer was bottled.

Though quick, this method had the disadvantages of producing beers with a short shelf life and sometimes giving them an unpleasant flavour. Generally, the slow chilling method which follows was considered to be superior. 

Monday, 16 May 2022

Bottling 1880 - 1914 (part 3)

The original method of bottle-conditioning fell out of favour on account of drinkers’ preference for clear beer. Several new methods of bottling were developed in the final decades of the 19th century which resulted in sediment-free beer.

Five different methods of bottling were employed:

1.    Natural conditioning.
2.    Forced bottling.
3.    Simple carbonation.
4.    Quick chilling and filtering.
5.    Prolonged chilling and filtering.

Natural conditioning
This was the oldest form of bottling. And, because it relied on natural processes, also the trickiest to perform consistently. It only worked well with beers specifically brewed for the purpose.

Before bottling, beer was allowed to condition for a month in cask. There then followed a period of conditioning in the bottle of between 2 and 6 weeks, the average being about 4 weeks. The store where the conditioning took place was ideally between 55º and 60º F, as this was the temperature range which produced the best flavour.

The procedure for Strong ales was different. Such beers were aged between 6 and 12 months in cask after racking and then allowed to condition a further 6 months after bottling. Though it appears many brewers were too impatient to follow this procedure and often beers were given too little time to properly develop flavour and condition.

Casks were moved to the bottling store 1 to 2 weeks before bottling and soft spiled to allow most of the carbonation to dissipate. Some brewers primed with sugar to provide fermentable material for conditioning in the bottle, but others relied on the trickier method of using residual sugars in the beer itself.

Brewers were moving over to quicker and more reliable methods of bottling, even while accepting that they couldn’t match natural conditioning for flavour. Which is why some brewers of top-class Pale Ales and Stouts, such as Bass, Guinness and Whitbread, insisted on their beers being bottle-conditioned.
 

Sunday, 15 May 2022

The future of Mild

As a novelty. A bit like Gose, but less popular as it's harder to throw all sorts of random shit into a Dark Mild.

When I started drinking way back in the early 1970s, Mild wasn't just a standard draught beer, it was a popular one. In Newark, every pub sold it. And lots of people drank it. When I went to university in Leeds, it was extremely popular in Tetleys pubs. In the type of working class pub I preferred, maybe a third of the punters were drinking Mild. And maybe another 20% drinking mixed. In the public bar, that is. More drank Bitter in the posh rooms.

It was only when I started looking more closely in The Good Beer guide that I realsied this didn't reflect the situation everywhere. There were already parts of the country where Mild was near extinct. Scotland, Northeast England, London, Southwest England. many  brewers had discontinued Mild or only sold it in keg form. The latter a sure sign that its popularity was plumetting.

The decline went back further than I realised. In Scotland, almost no Mild was brewed after WW I. though often 60/- Pale Ale pretended to be Mild. Region by region, it fell into terminal decline. Sometimes replaced  - as in the Northeast and Southwest - by low-gravity Pale Ales which were Light Mild in all but name.

Some styles have made remarkable comebacks. Who could have predicted the return of Milk Stout? Which in my youth was as fashionable as a tweed jacket. Proof that anything is possible.

I just can't see that happening with Mild. Yes, plenty of trendy brewers will knock one out now and again, possibly in a bid to cross off all the "official" styles. But few introduce a Mild as a regular addition to their portfolio. While older brewers may persist half-heartedly with their Mild, whilst not daring to use the name. Instead labelling it Dark or some other mealymouthed euphemism.

Should this make me sad? As someone who loved a good Mild, yes. It does. I'd love to go to Cross Green and drink 10 pints of Tetley's Mild again. But it isn't going to happen. The world has moved on. Beer styles come and go. And almost never return. I'll just cherish the memories of a time that's gone forever. Like a Porter drinker in the 1940s.

The same fate, incidentally, awaits Pilsner and IPA. All styles have their day.

Having said this, my local brewery, Butcher's Tears, pretty much always has a Mild on tap. Sometimes two. The last couple of weeks, even on cask. Perhaps there's life in the style after all. 


(I dropped by Butcher's Tears yesterday, as every Saturday. Sure enough, they had gravity-served Dark Mild. Very nice it was, too.)

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Let's Brew - 1897 Hancock SBA

Now here’s a confusing beer. I’m assuming SBA stands for “Special Bitter Ale”. So, you would expect it to be stronger than BA. But it isn’t. Instead, it’s exactly the same OG.

What makes it “special”, then? Well, there is one big difference with BA: SBA is all malt. Just like BA, it’s a combination of Chilean and Ouchak. But there’s no No. 1 invert sugar. As the invert sugar only cost 15s a quarter and the malt was 30s and 33s 6d per quarter, SBA was more expensive to brew. BA cost 14s 6d per barrel, while SBA was 15s 9d per barrel.

There was also extra cost in the hops. Both beers used all 1896 East Kents. But BA had two types, one at 56s and the other at 88s. SBA opted for 100% of the latter.

All in all, the difference between SBA and BA is the use of classier ingredients. The same quantities and the same gravity. I dearly wish I’d been able to find a Hancock’s pricelist so I could see how much more was charged for SBA.

1897 Hancock SBA
pale malt 12.26 lb 100.00%
Goldings 120 mins 2.25 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1053
FG 1012
ABV 5.42
Apparent attenuation 77.36%
IBU 57
SRM 5
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity

 

Friday, 13 May 2022

Bottling 1880 - 1914 (part 2)

As you can probably tell, I'm working away on the next volume of my mega series on the history of UK beer. 60,000 words or so, currently. Still a along way to go, though. Loads more recipes to write.

This week, I wrote 13,000 words on bottling. Like these ones:

Several different methods of sealing bottles were employed. The oldest, and one still used today, was a cork. This was very effective, but relied very much on the quality of the cork itself. And good quality corks were expensive. It was also easy to disturb any sediment when removing it. There was also a risk of contamination from corks as they naturally contained moulds and yeasts. 

"there is nothing to beat a corked bottle beer — provided the cork is steamed and washed in a revolving wire drum to remove all dust and to soften and sterilise it." 

The most popular type was the internal screw stopper. They were usually made of very hard wood and fitted with a rubber washer. That such stoppers could be reused was a double-edged sword. As they used a standard thread, they would fit any brewer’s bottles. Unlike the bottles themselves, customers made little effort to return stoppers to the right brewery. Which meant that even if you bothered to buy good quality stoppers you would inevitably end up with inferior ones from your rivals.  I can remember buying quart bottles with this type of closure in the late 1970s.

Flip-top stoppers – like those used by Grolsch – weren’t much used in the UK, despite their popularity in the USA and the rest of Europe. Its use was mostly limited to Lager and rarely used for British-style beers.

Various weird and wonderful single-use stoppers were in use, most of which didn’t hang around for long. One did, however, stand the test of time: the crown cork. In the run up to WW I this was becoming increasingly popular, especially for half pints. 

"He [Mr. Robert D. Clarke] believed that the crown cork would prove to be the cork of the future. It imparted no taste, and being soaked in paraffin it was absolutely clean and satisfactory. He had practically scrapped the whole of his ordinary cork bottles, and was using nothing but crowns and porcelain stoppers." 


 

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Bottling 1880 - 1914

Bottled beers were becoming increasingly popular and this popularity had inspired brewers to come up with new methods for producing them.

For some breweries, such as Whitbread, bottled beer was starting to be a hugely significant part of their sales. Between 1901 and 1904, bottled beer increased its proportion of their total sales from 25% to 50%.

Whitbread Draught and Bottled sales 1901 – 1914
  total draught Bottling Burton  
Year barrels % barrels % barrels % Total
1901 538,097 73.63% 188,525 25.80% 4,153 0.57% 730,775
1902 546,043 72.92% 198,812 26.55% 3,975 0.53% 748,830
1903 552,383 71.00% 221,651 28.49% 3,998 0.51% 778,032
1904 546,402 69.40% 237,522 30.17% 3,379 0.43% 787,303
1905 538,584 67.67% 254,373 31.96% 2,983 0.37% 795,940
1906 526,766 64.32% 289,898 35.40% 2,361 0.29% 819,025
1907 513,881 61.49% 320,140 38.30% 1,749 0.21% 835,770
1908 477,470 58.97% 330,767 40.85% 1,459 0.18% 809,696
1909 456,638 56.14% 355,212 43.67% 1,481 0.18% 813,331
1910 446,477 55.72% 353,534 44.12% 1,325 0.17% 801,336
1911 459,908 53.81% 392,899 45.97% 1,564 0.18% 854,371
1912 464,539 49.95% 463,938 49.88% 1,548 0.17% 930,025
1913 436,095 51.17% 414,661 48.66% 1,415 0.17% 852,171
1914 418,402 49.38% 427,455 50.45% 1,415 0.17% 847,272
Source:
Whitbread Bottled Beer Sales ledger held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/16.

Not all types of beer were bottled. Most notable of the excluded types was Mild Ale. Despite being the most popular style at the time, it was rarely bottled. The name Porter also rarely appeared on a label. Not because it wasn’t bottled, but because bottled forms were marketed under another name, such as Luncheon Stout or Cooper.

Bottled beer types
Type Min. OG Max OG
Strong Ale 1069.5 1111.2
IPA 1055.6 1069.5
Light Pale Ale 1041.7 1050.0
Stout 1055.6 1077.8
Luncheon Stout 1044.5 1050.0
Source:
“A Treatise of Practical Brewing and Malting” by Frank Thatcher, 1907, page 477.


Several different methods of sealing bottles were employed. The oldest, and one still used today, was a cork. This was very effective, but relied very much on the quality of the cork itself. And good quality corks were expensive. It was also easy to disturb any sediment when removing it. There was also a risk of contamination from corks as they naturally contained moulds and yeasts. 

"there is nothing to beat a corked bottle beer — provided the cork is steamed and washed in a revolving wire drum to remove all dust and to soften and sterilise it." 

The most popular type was the internal screw stopper. They were usually made of very hard wood and fitted with a rubber washer. That such stoppers could be reused was a double-edged sword. As they used a standard thread, they would fit any brewer’s bottles. Unlike the bottles themselves, customers made little effort to return stoppers to the right brewery. Which meant that even if you bothered to buy good quality stoppers you would inevitably end up with inferior ones from your rivals.  I can remember buying quart bottles with this type of closure in the late 1970s.

Flip-top stoppers – like those used by Grolsch – weren’t much used in the UK, despite their popularity in the USA and the rest of Europe. Its use was mostly limited to Lager and rarely used for British-style beers.

Various weird and wonderful single-use stoppers were in use, most of which didn’t hang around for long. One did, however, stand the test of time: the crown cork. In the run up to WW I this was becoming increasingly popular, especially for half pints. 

"He [Mr. Robert D. Clarke] believed that the crown cork would prove to be the cork of the future. It imparted no taste, and being soaked in paraffin it was absolutely clean and satisfactory. He had practically scrapped the whole of his ordinary cork bottles, and was using nothing but crowns and porcelain stoppers." 


 

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1897 Hancock BA

I’m on much steadier ground with this beer when it comes to style. I’m certain that this is a Pale Ale. With the name presumably being “Bitter Ale”.

As with XXB, the malt was all from foreign barley. Again, Chilean and Ouchak. Which does strike me as strange. But there must have been some reason as it’s the same for all Hancock’s Pale Ales.

This time the sugar is what you would expect: No. 1 invert. And slightly more of it than in XXB, being 18% compared to 15%. Unsurprisingly, the resulting colour us paler, despite the gravity being higher.

This time there are two types of hops. Though both are East Kent from the 1896 season. And there a quite a few more of them than in XXB: 9.33 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt compared to 6.3 lbs. Rather surprisingly, BA wasn't dry hopped.
 

1897 Hancock BA
pale malt 8.75 lb 81.40%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.00 lb 18.60%
Goldings 120 mins 2.25 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.25 oz
OG 1053
FG 1012
ABV 5.42
Apparent attenuation 77.36%
IBU 57
SRM 7
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity

 

 

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

I've never been to Sleaford

"You know what, Dolores? I'm much better travelled in Holland than in Britain."

"You always say that."

One of the great things about getting older is repeating yourself. My elderly realtions were experts. I've only just discovered its joys. Obviously, most of the time you don't realise you're doing it. But when do, it's as fun as a conscious dream. Looking at the doubt on the face of your interlocutor, when they're trying to decide whether to let on or not that you've already told them that 20 times. Dolores always opts for the latter course, which makes it far less fun.

But I digress.

Sleaford is one of the closest towns to Newark, where I grew up. About 20 miles away from my brother's house. Never been there. Why would I want to?

Retford. Been through it hundreds of times on the train. Only, I think, ever got off once. To change trains.I didn't leave the station.

Grantham, which I normally refer to as Newark's evil twin. Thatcher was born there, after all. Been there maybe three or for times. First was for a CAMRA branch meeting with my brother. That it was in a pub selling cask Barnsley Bitter gives an idea of how long ago it was. Pretty sure that's the only branch meeting I've ever attended.

I once had an hour two between trains in Grantham with Dolores. She wasn't impressed. "Don't bring me back here again, Ronald." I haven't.

My only time in Mansfield was to watch Sunderland play. With my brother, obviously. We stood on a cop at one end with all the Sunderland fans. At one point, a Sunderland player ran half the length of the pitch and smacked the ball into the net in front of us. Everyone around us went crazy. Most exciting moment ever at a sporting event. And I'm a Newcastle fan.

Loughborough I've been to twice. Once for a pub crawl. The town had a really good variety of tied houses. Ones from 8 or 9 different breweries. Which was rare in a place of its size. Meaning you could do a statutory pub crawl (8 pubs, a pint in each) drinking beer from 8 different breweries.

The other time was to watch Wishbone Ash. A band I loved at the time. Though I now realise some of their stuff is wank. But that was the early 1970s for you.

Hang on. I think it was also Loughborough where I saw Dr. Feelgood whilst the is sixth form. I can remember arguing with a classmate a few days that Wilko Johnson was a better guitarist than Jimmy Page. I still by that opinion.

Derby. Been there twice. Once just for a few pints around the station whilst making a connection. First time was on a school trip to see a theatre production of Tommy. I got stuck in a Hardy & Hansons pub drinking electric-pumped Mild with Martyn Young. We were so distracted that we only caught the last ten minutes of the performance. They had to stop the bus on the way home so I could get off to throw up. Happy days.

Trust Dolores to bring me back to reality.

"Maybe it's because you've lived much longer in Holland."

Don't distract me with logic, Dolores. I'm busy ranting.